I went to the store and to quench my thirst bought a milk.

I went to the store and to quench my thirst, bought a milk.

I went to the store and, to quench my thirst, bought a milk.

To the best of my knowledge, all of them are grammatical. Then why are there commas? Do they create difference? If so, what are the differences? Also, if there is any wrong one, please notify me. Thank you.

  • 2
    These are all ungrammatical; store requires an article. The three sentences are identical except for punctuation, which is not part of grammar and does not determine grammaticality. With clauses this short, commas, which are normal but optional, are often omitted. – John Lawler Aug 25 '15 at 23:27
  • I edited it! So all three of them are OK as they are? – jose Aug 25 '15 at 23:30
  • 2
    Sure. Like I said, punctuation is not part of grammar. There are no real rules for punctuation. – John Lawler Aug 25 '15 at 23:32
  • 1
    There are no rules? But then why do people say I have to punctuate this type of thing correctly? Like "Apple, orange, and banana" not "Apple, orange and banana?" People call it oxford comma and I thought it is what we have to abide by. – jose Aug 25 '15 at 23:40
  • 2
    Because they have been taught badly and now make their living teaching others badly. Sorry about that, but it's not my fault. It's not their fault, either, because their teachers were ignorant, too. But that's the way it is. – John Lawler Aug 25 '15 at 23:49

There is no rule governing the use of commas. None. Not a single one. Some people (especially editors and publishers) invent mechanical rules for themselves, or adopt mechanical rules which other people have invented; some use commas and other points like gestures, to divide their sentences into smaller more coherent chunks; some write their sentences for the ear and put commas where they discern distinct prosodic junctions of various sorts.

But in the end, when pencil meets paper, everybody puts commas where they want to, not where some Real Linguistic Rule requires them to. Consequently it's not merely possible but virtually inevitable for three different pointings of a single sentence all to be grammatical.

| improve this answer | |
  • You and JL have just taught jose (in his own words) "a lot," namely that he doesn't have to pay attention to punctuation because "there are no rules." Oh, well played! – deadrat Aug 26 '15 at 1:10
  • 2
    @deadrat On the contrary: JL and I have taught him that he has to pay attention to punctuation, instead of blindly following a mechanical formula, and take responsibility for it. – StoneyB on hiatus Aug 26 '15 at 1:17
  • Is that what you think you've done? I guess that in the end everybody puts advice where they want to, not where some Rule requires them to. – deadrat Aug 26 '15 at 1:22
  • @deadrat So is there the one you think is particularly correct? – sooeithdk Aug 26 '15 at 5:10
  • @sooeithdk Does it matter to my point? – deadrat Aug 26 '15 at 6:01

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.